Fast Fashion: Why Unethical Consumption isn’t a Consumers Fault

Fast Fashion: Why Unethical Consumption isn’t a Consumers Fault

Katie Beth Smith, Staff Writer

Everyone’s fashion and style is becoming more important as they feel they can express themselves more openly in this increasingly progressive world and it is fun to create cool outfits and take photos for social media.  The problem is most fashion is very expensive and inaccessible to most people especially the younger generation who usually don’t have the funds to try new and fun styles the way they would want to.  This is where Fast Fashion Comes into the picture.  Fast fashion is defined as inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends, but many people don’t understand why this business model is bad.  Though this is a very profitable business model it does pose some ethical issues that many people consider a reason not to support businesses that follow this model.

There are many reasons why Fast Fashion is so popular, but the main one is that you can get the latest popular styles for the cheapest prices, but these affordable items come at a big cost.  The cheap cost comes from using materials that are cheap which means the clothing isn’t quality, the items are often mass produced in factories that harm the environment, the materials used to make the clothing are often harmful to the environment, and lastly in order to maintain the affordability of the products many companies use child labor and exploit their workers.  It is very hard to talk about all of these issues in depth because they are so complex, but in short fast fashion is a pretty unethical business model.  Now you may be wondering why anyone would buy products from a brand that uses this business model, but in actuality many of the most popular brands are fast fashion.  There are brands that people immediately recognize as fast fashion like SHEIN, Zaful, Romwe, and Forever 21, and then there are big brands that most people don’t associate with fast fashion like Nike, Hollister, and Pac Sun which often surprise people who have bought from those brands and haven’t even considered them for this business model.  

This unethical business model has become more widespread in recent years many people and organizations have started advocating against them and even though this is a great idea they often tend to blame consumers for buying from these brands and companies in the first place which I feel isn’t helping the problem and here’s why:

We live under the economic system known as capitalism which is very competitive because every business is trying to bet the consumer to buy their product instead of a similar product from somewhere else.  In order for a business to succeed in this they have to do things that appeal to the consumer like offer high quality products or a lower price than other businesses.  This means that the consumer chooses where they buy their products which is why they are often blamed for fast fashion and told things like “if you would stop buying from and supporting Fast Fashion then we could fix the problems that come with it”.  This however is a skewed way of thinking because most people in America specifically barely make enough money to live comfortably (which is yet again the fault of business and companies) and therefore they have to find the cheapest possible products so that they can afford not only things they need to live but also things that bring them enjoyment and happiness.  This means that most people can’t afford to be ethical consumers because even if they would like to it is usually more expensive.  So, even though consumers are given the illusion of choice they really don’t have that much of an option.  An even bigger problem however is that we should blame companies for their unethical policies that harm their workers and the environment and lobby for regulations and policies that wouldn’t allow them to continue their unethical practices.  Companies will not change their practices on their own because they will always have customers despite their unethical conditions which just goes to show that they only care about making money and not the good of their workers or the environment that they are trashing in the process.  This is why I believe that we shouldn’t fault normal people for buying cheap clothes, but instead we should blame big businesses and corporations that allow this to happen and we should try and get it fixed through the law instead of by bullying people who see it as their only affordable option.